"Save me, oh God, from people who have no sense of humor."
— Ludlow Porch

Raspberry Pi 3. Get one.

So. One of the guys in my class this week sold me on the Raspberry Pi. A friend of mine has been running the Colorado Springs ATC feed on a Raspberry Pi for years. I've always wanted one, but didn't pull the trigger until today.

Today, after leaving my client's site at around noon, I drove to the Micro Center in NoVa, and bought a Raspberry Pi. He told me that they are now about $30, but when I got there, I decided to buy a package with the necessary hardware for about $70. I also bought a wireless keyboard and trackpad for about $30, as well as a 64GB MicroSD card for about $35. I didn't need the 64GB SD Card and you probably don't either, since the pi comes with a 16GB flash drive. I bought the 64GB drive, because I wanted to be able to boot my device into OSMC from the flash device, have lots of room for the videos, and not have to delete Raspbian from the flash card that the Pi came with.

Clickbait. just... don't


Ok, I'm not rolling on the floor, laughing my @55 off. I just got carried away with the Internet jargon; but seriously...

OMG! Why are you people clicking on clickbait? When you see it, I promise, you will not be "astonished". You will easily believe what you read. nothing you see in clickbait will leave you "speechless", or "breathless". It will be dull and boring and you won't regret it if you just pass. I use OpenDNS and keep my block lists current so I don't normally see this crapfest. When I travel however, I use hotel wifi and am constantly barraged by an unending slew of BS. Take for example this single screenshot...



I mean, really?! There's something there for everyone. For instance, I'm having a bit of an issue not experiencing the best fight ever. I mean... what's the harm in ... NO! Don't click it. That only leads to more of it. When you click on clickbait, YOU become the problem. Don't be the problem. Be the SOLUTION!

By the way, NOBODY in Germany is hot. Especially not ANY German cops. Don't click on it. Seriously. Don't.



Wow... Getting scammed much?

So... I get this email this evening and have my "SCAM" switch flipped on like mad. People like me, who are computer security experts and software security consultants (I call myself a hacker) immediately see the frankly, juvenile attempts of a non-english speaking script kiddie, attempting to fleece "rich 'mercans" - Notice I said "'mercan" and not "Merkin" - of their ill-gotten gains... and are shocked that anyone would ever fall for this bullshit.

I mean, seriously. Would this entice you to enter personal information into ANY website?

... I tried for like, eight seconds to get my Snagit for Mac to do a scrolling capture so that I could post the whole thing, and gave up quickly. Getting Snagit to capture a scrolling region on Mac, Linux and Windows is as difficult as - trying to come up with a simile for difficulty. Suffice it to say, "not easy"... so I gave up and captured what I could see.

I mean... seriously. The bad guys are clearly asking for your, "Personal Information". If you respond to an email like this, then please send me your ... oh what the hell. Money. All of it. Send it to me now.


GitHub gifts paid subscribers with unlimited private repositories!

I used to run my own Subversion server, but with my latest endeavors I am an advocate and evangelist for cloud computing. Focus on your business domain and let Amazon take care of the infrastructure. So a few years ago I moved my active projects to a paid subscription on GitHub. Only my active projects though, and not all of my source code, because at the time GitHub only allowed you five private repositories, and I didn't want to give all of my work away to the world for free.

Today GitHub announced that they are changing that policy and now allowing paid subscribers to create UNLIMITED private repositories! now I can finally take down my old SVN server, which is still running on an old server in my office, and move all of that to GitHub!

I also have some repositories on GitLabs that I will move over to GitHub. This was a long time coming and I'm glad that GitHub finally is moving in the right direction here.

For more information, read their official statement.


Let's Encrypt!

SSL has always been a good idea but has always been a hassle to configure, and can be expensive. If you run a number of websites like I do, then SSL is easily the most expensive piece of the puzzle, so most of us forego securing the pipe like we should.

Riding to the rescue is LetsEncrypt!

LetsEncrypt solves the issue of SSL certificates being expensive, but doesn't so much to solve the "hassle to configure" issue. Oh well.

To use LetsEncrypt, follow the instructions here...

There are rate limits to the service, as discussed here, but if you aren't developing a client for the service then you won't likely have any issues with limits. If you are developing a client, then use the staging service, which is unlimited.

I'll be exploring generating a new SSL certificate and deploying it to an Amazon S3 instance that I am developing located here. I'll cover that later in this series of articles.

Accessing Windows NTFS partitions from Linux on a dual-boot system

I dual boot Windows 10 and Kubuntu 16.04 Linux. Recently, after upgrading to Windows 10, I noticed that I was unable to mount my exFat and NTFS partitions from the Linux side.

The exFat problem is easy to resolve. Start up the terminal of your choice and type...

sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse

That will install the exFat drivers for your Linux system. From now on you're good to go regarding exFat. If you don't know about exFat, it is the best format for flash drives. It is supported on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux (after you install it) unlike FAT32, and doesn't have the 4GB limitation that FAT does; which makes it perfect for using one drive across all of your operating systems.  

But this isn't the exFat issue. It is the problem of not being able to mount an NTFS partition from Linux, which has always been a no-brainer.If you get an error like this when you try to mount an NTFS partition, then you know what I'm talking about...

An error occurred while accessing 'Home', the system responded: The requested operation has failed: Error mounting /dev/sda1 at /media/9C9445DC9445BA12: Command-line `mount -t "ntfs" -o "uhelper=udisks2,nodev,nosuid,uid=500,gid=500,dmask=0077,fmask=0177" "/dev/sda1" "/media/9C9445DC9445BA12"' exited with non-zero exit status 14: Windows is hibernated, refused to mount. Failed to mount '/dev/sda1': Operation not permitted The NTFS partition is in an unsafe state. Please resume and shutdown Windows fully (no hibernation or fast restarting), or mount the volume read-only with the 'ro' mount option.

The problem is caused by new functionality in Windows 10 (and Windows 8, which I never used) that causes the default shutdown behavior to be to hibernate your PC rather than actually shutting it down. It is called "Fast Startup" and is supposed to make Windows 10 "feel" faster than it really is. In order to access these NTFS partitions on Linux, you need to disable Fast Startup and hibernation as follows...

  • Boot to Windows 10.
  • Click your start menu and type "Power Options" in the search box and select Power Options from the search results.
  • On the left side, click "Change what the power buttons do".
  • Scroll to the bottom (you may have to unlock the page - Look for a link to unlock options at the top), and de-select the "Turn on fast startup (recommended)" and "Hibernate" options.

This will probably fix the issue, but in case it doesn't, you can force the issue by executing the following command in a windows terminal window (command prompt) running as Administrator...

powercfg.exe -h off

Shut-down Windows normally now, and re-boot into Linux. You should then be able to access your Windows 10 NTFS partition normally.

Good luck!

Installing Startup Disk Creator on Kubuntu

I recently found myself needing to repair some Windows partitions and move files around from an old spinning disk to a new mSata SSD drive. The only Linux flash drive that I had provisioned already was Kubuntu 15.10 live. While I was using it, I needed to create a new bootable flash drive with Ubuntu 16.04 so I could install a new partition on this new SSD running Ubuntu 16.04. Unfortunately Kubuntu doesn't come with Startup Disk Creator already installed on it. If you click the "K" menu and type "Startup" you'll see its missing from the system. No worries...

  • Launch the Konsole terminal
  • Type "sudo apt install usb-creator-gtk"
  • Let it install, and voila.

Now, clicking on the "K" menu and typing "Startup" will allow you to run the Startup Disk Creator.

Installing VMWare Tools on a Kali-Linux VMWare VM.

On a fresh Kali Linux install, you are going to need the kernel headers first. Go ahead and install them by following these directions...

  1. Open a command prompt in the Linux VM.
  2. Execute these commands...
apt-get update
apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`

If it fails and you typed it, realize that those aren't single quotes. They are "back-ticks". Use the key on the top-left of your keyboard that has the tilde on it "~". Otherwise, just copy-paste.

Now, it's time to install the VMWare tools...

  1. Open a command prompt in the Linux VM (Or use the one that is already open if you ran the above steps first).
  2. From the VMWare menu choose, "VM | Install VMWare Tools".
  3. The disk should mount.
  4. In the terminal window, execute the following commands...
    cd /tmp  
    tar zxf /media/cdrom/VMWareTools-9.9.2-2496486.tar.gz

    Note: Your version will likely be different than mine, so type "tar zxf /media/cdrom/VM" then press the [Tab] key to autocomplete the proper filename.

    cd vmware-tools-distrib

Disabling "Prompt for Password on Wakeup"

I got a new laptop at the end of the year. While configuring it (I'm a bit of a power-user and like my laptops configured in a specific way) I tried to remove the onerous "require password when the computer awakens". Unfortunately the domain of my company had enforced the policy. Drag.

I use a severely complex password in order to provide real security. It's not a sentence, or an array of sentence letters, or anything in any way related to me. It in fact is a generated password that looks something like this...  "g4JGmU{Y2xX". That one is NOT my password. It's just another generated one based on the same algorithm as the one that I generated before.

Anyway, as you can see, entering that password over and over again, is pure hell. It keeps my laptop secure, but is a bitch to enter. I have it on my phone, in an application called "1Password", and I have to enter yet a separate password in order to unlock my 1Password application so that I can see this hairy-chested password and enter it.

In an effort to keep my power usage down, I have my laptop set to sleep itself as quickly as possible when on battery, therefore I need to disable the "prompt for password on wakeup" in order to make my life easier. I am responsible enough to lock my computer when I leave it, so I don't need this corporate big-brotherism interfering with the way I work. I looked up a way around the domain restriction but unfortunately I was unable to find what I needed. Then I began to dig in the registry and came upon this...

make sure your registry is backed up before trying to edit it. You have been warned. 

  • Run RegEdit
  • Open the following key...


  • Edit the value "PromptPasswordOnResume", changing the value from "1" to "0".
  • If the value "PromptPasswordOnResume" doesn't exist, then create a new 32-bit DWord value called "PromptPasswordOnResume" and set its value to "0" 
  • Save and exit the registry.

After you reboot (at least in my case) awakening the computer from sleep does NOT require a password, although the normal interface screens where you set this value still appear to have the setting that will require it to. In other words, it seems to be a simple hack that overrides the setting and makes life nicer.

Good luck!